From 2008 the world economy has been facing its worst period since the end of the Second World War. Governments are applying budgetary restrictions to tackle this serious recession, which is having a considerable effect on defence spending.
Furthermore, in the course of this crisis the Alliance's security environment has been changing, and has become more diverse and unpredictable. The crisis in Libya is a recent example, underlining the unforeseeable nature of conflicts, but also showing the need for modern systems and facilities, and for less reliance on the United States for costly advanced capabilities.
In these crisis times, rebalancing defence spending between the European nations and the United States is more than ever a necessity. The other Allies must reduce the gap with the United States by equipping themselves with capabilities that are deemed to be critical, deployable and sustainable, and must demonstrate political determination to achieve that goal. There must be equitable sharing of the defence burden. Smart defence is NATO's response to this.